"fast, creative, clever and fresh." Nagi Maehashi
A while ago I said I would do some posts on the top Australian foodie blogs. Well I'm not sure whether there is an official 'best' but I looked at several 'best' lists and decided to focus on the ones that cropped up on two or more lists. So here I go with the first one - Recipe Tin Eats. I should also say that 'best' in this context actually means most successful - i.e the ones with the most hits. They are therefore all trying hard to make a living out of their blogging, not just amusing themselves like me. I'm pretty sure there are heaps of bloggers like me as well and every now and then I note them down, and maybe from time to time I'll look at them too. Because, well, why do we do it?
Recipe Tin Eats often pops up when I am looking for a particular recipe so it obviously has effectively enabled SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). I think I could probably make mine better, but I can't be bothered to work out how to do it. After all I'm not trying to make money here, and although it's gratifying to see somebody reads my stuff - thank you friends and family - it's not really why I do it.
But for Nagi Maehashi the creator of Recipe Tin Eats it's her job. It has enabled her to make a sea-change as well as changing careers completely. She is a Japanese born Australian whose first career was in high flying corporate finance. At some point after a trip to the northern beaches of Sydney she decided to throw all this away to follow her passion for food and in the process:
"creating and sharing my favourite recipes with people from all over the world."
Well that and making a fortune. An article in The Daily Telegraph, in 2016 implied that she was then earning a 6 figure salary from the blog and associated ventures. Indeed in the article she was reported as saying she was making more than in her old job. I found a 2020 report that said that she had 2.5 million viewers per month and 1.8 million readers. I assume readers must mean those who have signed up to her email list. And somewhere I saw that she was rated about 40th in the world for food blogs.
So why is this particular blog so successful? I mean there are heaps and heaps of them out there, many put out by larger internet publications. Professionals as it were. Although I guess she could now be called a professional.
I confess at first glance I am hard pressed to explain why it is so successful. It's a pretty simple concept after all. Her mission statement, if you can call it that is as follows:
"I want to show you how to make vibrant recipes made with everyday ingredients, spanning cuisines from around the world as well as classic comforts. Delicious recipes with the “wow” factor that are simple to make, cost effective and can often be prepared ahead."
Which is what just about everybody in the food business says. But that's really all she does. She does not write mini essays on the recipes. She just presents it. Every other day or so a new recipe is posted on the website, together with suggestions for dinner tonight from her database. Here is today's new recipe - an eggplant curry from southern India. On the Home page you just have a tempting looking photograph of the completed dish, so you click on it and are taken to a step-by-step process with tips, asides and information on the various ingredients. There is often a video too, and it's all illustrated with pretty professional photos. Note the ads along the side and the bottom though - for this is where the money is made.
And you - the blogger that is - don't even have to do that yourself - there are agencies that do this - in this case Café Media. So yes there are lots of those very annoying ads on every page, as you scroll and move from page to page, although so far only confined to the sidebar and the foot of the page. Lots of websites also have them popping up in the middle of the text. So much so that sometimes it's difficult to sort out the actual text from what you are attempting to read.
I also discovered in the small print at the bottom that the site is designed and developed by others as well, although I think that initially she did it all herself with a WordPress template. I guess if you are successful you can pay others to do the tedious stuff.
I suspect that at least half of the appeal of the site is the photographs. She is a self-taught food photographer and has published an e-book on the subject. So if you want to improve your Instagram shots of your special dinner have a look at it. You can download a few sample pages for free. I'm not sure how much the book costs.
If you join her email list you will get a three free e-books. I'm guessing that if you join the list then her numbers go up and she will get more ads. I think if you join the list then you also get to be able to store recipes in your own personal recipe tin. Those free recipe books are a pretty good come on though.
She has also set up a Facebook group for bloggers, runs conferences, and writes books. So an energetic and resourceful lady.
I will give it full marks for delectable photos, clear and informative instructions and tempting looking dishes, but still I have to say I am a bit bemused by why it is so popular. Her personality perhaps - I gather she responds to comments and questions. Or perhaps it's her dog Dozer who is made much of. It's just very today I suppose. A kind of Coles Magazine/delicous magazine online. I guess if you followed it all the time, you might well have constant good ideas for what to cook for dinner tonight.
I have to say the Eggplant curry looks extremely tempting, though David doesn't like eggplant so that's not going to be happening when it's just the two of us. But yesterday's Blueberry cheesecake is a real possibility.
You have to admire people who can make a success like this. Although I confess I am still a bit confused as to how. Canny market research perhaps?